Thoughts on Breath of the Wild as Game of the Year: I’m not sold.

To no one’s surprise, the review for Wolfenstein: The Old Blood is not happening today. I would have loved to get it out this week, but my time had to be used elsewhere. On with the show.

This past weekend, December 7, to be exact, The Game Awards awarded The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Don’t be mad, I just never really got into Breath of the Wild. I only played around 5 hours of the game so feel free to ignore this page entirely if you don’t think that’s enough time to form an opinion of the game as a whole.

I have no idea why, but I’m disappointed it won compared to a couple other games on the list. I’ll leave out a discussion of those other games, for now, I just want to talk about why I think Breath of the Wild didn’t deserve to win. Let me first point out that I don’t think it’s a bad game. I just think there were better options.

I’m not a Zelda fan. I have never been. I missed out on it when I was growing up and it never really clicked for me after that. It also helps that I had zero say in what games I played until I was 10 or so. Instead of Zelda on the NES, I had Crystalis. I loved that game. I loved the elemental swords and the upgrades to them. Back to Zelda.

I wonder if nostalgia and deep seeded love for the franchise propelled Breath of the Wild past other options for game of the year. Of course, that isn’t something I can prove, just a feeling.

My point is that I don’t think Breath of the Wild is the definitive game of the year. I was never really hooked on it, nor did I play it for that long. How do I separate a game being bad versus a game just not being for me? Zelda certainly isn’t bad. Here’s why I wasn’t hooked:

  • Weapons breaking. I hate being forced to use a specific weapon just because the one I enjoyed using broke from some random game mechanic reason. I’m not into it. Forcing me to do something purely for the sake of experimenting doesn’t really enthrall me. Apparently, that isn’t an issue late game, but I’m not going to play to late game if I don’t enjoy the system up to that point.
  • Due to the weapon breaking, combat is oddly paced. I’m not a fan of having to switch weapons mid-fight because I have to. If I’m given a choice that’s a different story. Don’t make me use some nonsense Boko Club when I want to be using a Sword.
  • The world feels a little too large. While I can appreciate a great open world game, Witcher 3 as an example, Breath of the Wild’s world doesn’t have things that matter in every inch. The game feels large just for the sake of being large. Sure, you can kill some enemies or climb some trees or mountains everywhere. But, I never felt like every area needed to be explored. The world is dense but dense doesn’t mean intricate or involved. Enemies and shrines of the open world feel like they are one-off events or have no impact on the game overall.

Things I did enjoy about the game:

  • Graphics. I love the presentation of the game. The game looks awesome for being on an “underpowered console.” The fact that you can play a game that looks this good on mobile hardware is really a testament to Nintendo as a developer.
  • The sound. The sound feels accurate and always adds to the experience. It isn’t intrusive or overwrought, it’s just right for every situation. Smashing Bokoblin with a sword and then hearing them die with a yell sounds fantastic.

Things I didn’t experience enough of to judge:

  • The story. I completed the starting plateau and then set off in the direction of the next quest marker. I have no idea where that quest marker leads because I got lost somewhere in the wild and didn’t ever get to that quest marker. I was too busy trying to find every shrine in my vicinity.

As I mentioned earlier, I never felt hooked by the game and didn’t feel compelled to keep playing it. Why would I consider a game, game of the year, If I never finished it? To me, a game has to compel me to play and finish before I even consider it my game of the year. As it stands, Breath of Wild sits unplayed on a shelf. I should be playing it last thing to do before sleeping game, but I can’t tear myself away from Stardew Valley. I’m not ready for Zelda to replace Penny.

Soon-ish, I will start rolling out end of the year content, I’m still working out the schedule so it make sense in my head. I’ll actually talk about my game of the year, rather than discussing why I think a game shouldn’t be game of the year.

Thanks for reading.

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